It's a FAcT: Moose Jaw among 3 communities chosen for $11.2B RCAF training program

Moose Jaw's 15 Wing Royal Canadian Air Force Base has a decades-long history of training military personnel.

With the awarding of a new federal contract, the city has become one of three sites for the RCAF's $11.2 billion Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) program.

FAcT is aimed at improving flight training programs for the RCAF, with the investment spread out over the next 25 years at three locations: Moose Jaw, Portage La Prairie and Winnipeg.

Mayor Clive Tolley shared in a public statement his belief that the contract could be a sign of new and exciting things to come for Moose Jaw.

"15 Wing is a key facet of Moose Jaw's identity, and we're excited to know that training operations at our military base have been secured for another 25 years," he said.

CT-155 Hawk aircraft lined up at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Sask.
CT-155 Hawk aircraft lined up at 15 Wing Moose Jaw. (The Canadian Press/DND/Master Corporal Pierre Thériault)

Defence and aviation company SkyAlyne was awarded the contract to deliver FAcT in Moose Jaw. The funding will include the purchase of 71 aircraft and the development of a new training program that will include virtual reality and ground-based training systems.

The company's general manager, Kevin Lemke, says new buildings will be a key aspect of the program.

"Moose Jaw has the largest infrastructure investment out of the three sites," he said, pointing to new hangars, training facilities, classrooms and other facilities.

Rob Clark, CEO of the Moose Jaw Chamber of Commerce CEO, says the news has put his group on "cloud nine" because the investment will help the city continue connect with those who live and work at the base.

"It's becoming more of our community," he said. "A lot of the people are staying here, a lot of the people are retiring here, so it's really, really fabulous [to] retain some people."

Clark adds that while it's too early to even contemplate an accurate economic impact estimate for the area, the investment should also help draw business to Moose Jaw that might otherwise go elsewhere: "Most everything goes to Regina … so this is a big, big win for us."

Lemke says he sees the start of the project as akin to a winter sport.

"One of our guys, actually, was a former international-calibre bobsledder, and he said: 'What we've got to do, it's just like bobsleigh. We've got to start really fast, gain momentum, and don't hit the brakes 'til the finish line."